Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nanjing Presidential Palace

We took the bus from the Mausoleum area to the Presidential Palace, where according to wiki "Front gate of the Palace, taken in 2008, displays the sign "Office of the President" (總統府). Prior to 1947, the sign read "National Government" (國民政府)."

When I was a kid, and before the opening of China with visits by Kissinger and Nixon in the late 1970's, the Republic of China was the only one we learned about in the US. The flag of the Republic was associated with the KMT that left the Chinese Mainland in 1949. Here from wiki about the palace and its history.

"After the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, Sun Yat-sen was sworn in at the Presidential Palace as the provisional President of the Republic of China.
However, China soon fell into Warlord era and the Palace was not officially used until 1927 when the Kuomintang (KMT)'s Northern Expedition captured Nanjing and made it into the Headquarters of the Nationalist Government. Chiang Kai-shek had his office in the palace. During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), Chiang Kai-shek's government fled to Chongqing and the building was occupied by Wang Jingwei who collaborated with the Japanese. Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government reoccupied the building. In 1947, the Constitution of the Republic of China was promulgated and the Headquarters of the Nationalist Government was renamed the Office of the President.
In 1949, near the end of the Chinese Civil War, the Communist forces captured Nanjing, Chiang Kai-shek's government fled to Taiwan, and Mao Zedong declared the People's Republic of China with capital in Beijing. The building was then used for government functions. In the late 1980s it was transformed into a museum detailing China modern history. It is now one of the few places in mainland China where the Flag of the Republic of China is publicly displayed.
On April 27, 2005, the Chairman of Kuomintang, Lien Chan, visited the Palace on his trip to Mainland China, marking a symbolic return of the party to the Palace for the first time in 58 years."

Connection with History of Dr Sun Yat Sen

Ever since my youth, Chinese culture and history has been an interest of mine. Elsewhere on this blog, I have scanned in photos of Chinese Stamps prior to the split in 1949, of the KMP that went to Taiwan and the PRC who claimed the mainland. Still recognized as a founder of democratic China from the time of 1912, is Dr Sun Yat Sen. This is the mausoleum area created after his death. A long walk up a gradual hill in the forest began here.

A warm day, we took to drinking bottles of water, which are 1 RMB in the market, and now 3-5 RMB in the tourist sites.

The forest walk on the way from the bus stop to the bottom of the walk up the stair.

Along the side of the road are planted many plane trees, another name for the sycamore relative in many of the world cities. The mottled bark is one of the hallmarks of indentification.

Here is a map for the entire hill or mountain where the Mausoleum is built.

Impressive stone and I think a cypress tree at the entrance to the memorial site.

Entry gate at the Beginning of the many stairs to the top. 392 according to wiki : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Yat-sen_Mausoleum

The Chinese Characters likely tell the story here. Beautiful art for me AND not a lot of English here. Grateful to have a local guide to support me along the way.

Lions always seem to be big in China in the sculpture anyway. Here we are half way to the top I suppose.

Here is the building that holds Dr Sun's remians. According to wiki " . Sun was born in Guangdong province of China on November 12, 1866, and died in 1925 in Beijing, China. On April 23, 1929, the Chinese government appointed He Yingqin to be in charge of laying Dr. Sun to rest. On May 26, the coffin departed from Beijing, and on May 28, it arrived in Nanjing. On June 1, 1929, Dr. Sun was buried there. Sun, considered to be the "Father of Modern China" both in mainland China and in Taiwan, fought against the imperial Qing government and after the 1911 revolution ended the monarchy and founded the Republic of China.

Here is the view from the top and where we came from and will return to! Happy for the view!

Asian Odyssey - Hong Kong to China written from Bali

Here at the Star Ferry crossing on the Hong Kong side a couple of weeks back looking at Kowloon.
I have been off the blogging grid for a couple of weeks. Left Hong Kong for Nanjing China on Sept 12th and did not have access to this blog until yesterday and my return to Hong Kong. I am actually loading these photos from a small hotel in Bali, resting here after a 5 hour flight from Hong Kong last night. Inspired to begin writing again after Paul of www.anotherdayontherun.com asked in an email "you said that you were keeping a blog too, what's the URL? Hope Honkers (Australian slang for Hong Kong) is treating you OK." Thanks Paul. I hope to connect with his famlly again. He and his wife are both nurses and have like taken a year off to travel, with a 4 yr old son and a 9th month old as well. What a journey hey!

The night before I left for China, I got a chance to view the skyline of Hong Kong Island here. Iconic view.

Here is the tower in Kowloon at night net up to celebrate the Autumn festival. Along the harbor.

Mid September I learned is a time to share moon cakes. So here is one I got on the flight to Nanjing from Hong Kong. Filled with fruit and nuts and perhaps part of an egg. I sense it is kinda like fruit cake for the American Christmas time. The two men I had as guides, both in HK and Nanjing, really don't care for them much.

I arrived in Nanjing and my friend and guide Tony found the bus to get me to my Hotel booked by the Australian Travel group Flight Center. Here is the view out of my window. Only about a half mile from the Yangtze River here.

Here is the Nanjing Train Station where much of my activities centered out of. Took a bus here from the hotel and then took the subway to a part of Nanjing where I got a Chinese Cell phone. Was very handy to call around Zhongguo.

Here is the shopping are in Nanjing where I got my China Mobile phone

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday in Hong Kong - Night in Kowloon

Keith Lau picked me up at the HK Airport and we caught a bus (after I picked up an Octopus Card - for all transport, trains and busses, like an Oyster Card in the US) that took us directly in about 45 min to the Regal Riverside Hotel along the Shing Mun River in Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong. This is the view I found in the morning from my 15th story window. Keith had been quite organized in covering the bases on my 2 days travels here. I high school teacher of Chinese and World History and a native of New Territories, he knew all the short cuts and cheap ways to see the parts of the city, from the Star Ferry, to Peak View Point on Victoria Peak, to Up Scale Shopping and People watching at the tall tower, Two International Finance Center, that is, and then back to Kowloon on the ferry

I got a lesson in conversion as the Hong Kong Dollar has an exchange rate of about 12.83 HK per US Dollar. So this 500 dollar note is worth about 64.13 US dollars. What I find interesting is the HSBC clear writing and the direct affiliation of Hong Kong and Shanghai on the bill. I have seen the HSBC logo all over in my travels, and now knowing it stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The new world economy for sure.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Japan transition to Hong Kong Shatin -Shing Mun River

Here is a sign from the street in Tokyo where I stayed for 3 nights. I took the subway from here to visit Dr Ken on Thursday, a PA who goes to the US to learn about pediatric scientific advances for an integrative clinic in Tokyo. We met at an Autism One Conference in Chicago and I enjoyed his far reaching interest in public health. We talked about the change in radiation level from the Fukishima 3/11 event and how the diet of fish may be compromised. I remember the strontium 90 days in the US, when our nation was still testing atomic bombs in the environment.

This is the non-descript building where the administrative office is for the clinic where a met "Dr Ken". The office across the hall did not even know they had an office there. Persistence in asking for directions!

Friday AM I took a Taxi to the Tokyo rail station where I got a orange shuttle bus to Narita Airport. I made it in plenty of time to sit in the Starbucks here and check out the ambience before getting onto the China Eastern Airlines plane to Shanghai Pu Dong. Remindful of how my grandfather and my mom, likely sat in a Fred Harvey Restaurant waiting for the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1920's much as we wait for airplanes in the new Century.

I was pleasantly surprised with the free food on the China Eastern airplane. Here is the full meal I received on my way from Tokyo to Shanghai! Food is an interesting metaphor. Soba Noodles, a beef and rice dish.

And as free beverages, even got a Chinese beer after several glasses of orange juice. Staying well hydrated on this trip.

View from my first room at the Regal Riverview Hotel along the Shing Mun River in Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong. Noticing the general haze here which I sense is from the mainland Chinese nearby burning a lot of coal. Lots of activity alone the river, where I took a walk this morning. Grateful for my Amazon Herb and Probiotic Supplements that are keeping my immune system stable here!

Levels of transition. On a world finance level, here is a Hong Kong 500 dollar bill which converts to about $64.13 US. What I find interesting is the HSBC clear writing and the direct affiliation of Hong Kong and Shanghai on the bill. I have seen the HSBC logo all over in my travels, and now knowing it stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The new world economy for sure.

Here is a park across from my hotel where many folks are doing group exercises before 7 AM. Looks like chi gong.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kamakura Diabutsu (Great Buddha) and Hase –Dera Temple and Gardens

Charlie Engler, Shirley and Andy. My companions traveling to Kamakura and Yokohama on Monday. Our choice for a day trip after the typhoon cancelled Charlie, Shirley and me from the adventure. Actually all three of these folks have already scaled the mountain. Maybe next time for this guy. :-)

Signage for me to go straight. Not a possibility for some of us, and a useful sign to find the Kamakura Diabutsu (Great Buddha) , which was our first goal before resting and eating nice big sweet grapes that Shirley chose for a snack at the temple.

Here is a sign that includes the "JR"line. This is Japan Rail, the one that has the rail pass. I got all the JR line trains for free with my pass. THere are a lot of private rail lines around Tokyo that require other ways of payment. Locals have a rechargable card like an "Oyster Card" I have seen in the states. That is what Charlie and his friends use. For me, using the coin ticket machines is the daily ritual here for non JR lines. So I keep coins 500 Y and 100 Y available. It is a cash culture so I use the ATM's like in Europe to have enough cash for each day. Also note the simple peace sign or swastica that indicates a temple. THis sign was just near the train station to direct our hike to the sites in Kamakura for the day.

Map of the Kamakura area.

We took the Hase line to near the Hase- Dera Temple and Garden that Charlie had visited before with Aka Ono's Family. Great to have Charlie as the train maven here.

Andy and me entering the Diabutsu (Great Buddha) site.

Classical view of the large metal statue of the Buddha.

When the four of us entered the Hase- Dera Temple and Garden, I noticed the lotus flowers in the pond. I quiet and reflective area. We spent a couple of hours walking around this temple.

Garden pool in the shape of a swastika. Interesting history of the symbol in the East, per Wiki "In Chinese and Japanese the swastika is also a homonym of the number 10,000, and is commonly used to represent the whole of Creation, e.g. 'the myriad things' in the Dao De Jing. During the Chinese Tang Dynasty, Empress Wu Zetian (684-704) decreed that the swastika would also be used as an alternative symbol of the Sun. In Japan, the swastika is called manji. Since the Middle Ages, it has been used as a coat of arms by various Japanese families such as Tsugaru clan, Hachisuka clan or around 60 clans that belong to Tokugawa clan.[25] On Japanese maps, a swastika (left-facing and horizontal) is used to mark the location of a Buddhist temple. The right-facing manji is often referred to as the gyaku manji (逆卍, lit. "reverse manji") or migi manji (右卍, lit. "right manji") , and can also be called kagi jūji (literally "hook cross")."

Main temple building at Hase-Dera.

Here is some insight from my experience, for those who are considering a trip to Japan.
Folks had suggested a day trip to Kamakura, even my Carleton Classmate Paul Smith who doubted that I could have a cost effective journey and include Kyoto in my 9 day trip here in Nippon. The 7 Day Japan Rail pass, paid for itself with the quick ride on the train from Narita to Tokyo Station and then the Bullet Train....Shinkansen...in local parlance. Just like theTGV in France, the Japanese evidently in the 1970's invested in rail..While the US, still stayed addicted to the automobile. It is very easy to get around here, if you are open to riding the trains, without ever getting in a car. So far I have not taken even a taxi. The test will be tomorrow morning, when I get on a subway at 6 AM to get to Tokyo Station to get on the Orange Airport Limosine for the Hour and 20 min ride to Narita, to be there over 2 hours ahead of my flight to Hong Kong.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Welcome to Tokyo and the trains to Mt Fuji - Typhoon Talas Rains

I was welcomed to Shin Yokahamo station by Aki Ono and Charlie Engler (who took this photo). Aki had visited Charlie's family in Minnesota in June and I had missed meeting her as I was traveling in Illinois at the time. She and Charlie took me out for my first typical Tokyo meal nearby.

Charlie Engler, yours truly and Aki at the typical Tokyo eating place near the station. Aki demonstrated how to use the traditional grill, making a "pancake" of many ingredients.

Here Aki directed how to cover it with a sauce when she served it. Nice to have familiar faces to greet me to the big city.
And learning about a new cuisine for me.

Charlie and I got up in his apartment and had breakfast to prepared to meet is colleague, Shirley at one of the stations along the way. Transportation here is pretty much all dependent on the trains. So after getting acquainted with Shirley on the various trains, here are Charlie and Shirley on the last train to Mt Fuji looking quite hopeful for our climb. Both she and Charlie had done the trip before and we we all looking forward to the bus trip to the 5th station.

Here is the "happy volcano image on a screen behind the seat we noticed.

Upon arrival at the last station, the ticket folks made a sign of crossing their arms and said " too dangerous to go up because of the typhoon, no buses, the hiways are closed" So here are Charlie and Shirley soon after we had learned the news. We all had been planning on this for quite awhile, so we had to regroup and decided to walk down to the lake in the town and have something to eat. For me, it was often been, when in doubt, sit down regroup and consider our options.

Here is Charlie, modeling the body language of "it is closed, not available" we saw at the bus station.

At least I could capture some of the energy of planning for the ascent of the mountain and think about coming another time. Letting go. An evocative poster.

As we walked into town toward the lake this neighboorhood temple called us in for a short sweet respite to relax. Not much evidence of a nasty typhoon here as far as I could tell. :-)

A view of the lake, Kawaguchi-Ko, from near where we chose of have lunch.

Here are Shirley and Charlie admiring the hot pots with a local noodle called houtou. We got 3 different variety, kimchi, pork and pumpkin!

On the way back down toward Toyko I noticed the gardens along the tracks.

Here is the river that followed the valley where the train went, showing the large amount of water in the rivers that came in front of the typhoon.

Later on the trains, perhaps after the 10th transfer (5 trains going up, 5 trains going back according to Charlie), Charlie and Shirley seemed like in an OK mood! We climbed the trains rather than Mt Fuji!

Here is Charlie outside of the Chicken Restaurant named Toriki, in the Shinegawa area. Charlie discovered this through the Travel Channel on No Reservations, which is a show coming through Anthony Bourdain.

Here are some of what we ate. Liver, gizzards and chicken sashimi. Local speciality of this restaurant.